Are You Food Addicted?

Man excited about a hamburger

Food addicted people are not happy people. Sure, they appear happy when they are sitting down to a delicious meal, but that happiness is only temporary at best. That food induced euphoria leaves shortly after the meal has been consumed, and the realization comes that once again you have blown your diet.

How do I know this?

I know this because I have also struggled with my weight in years past, and know the emotions that come along with it. There is no joy in watching the number on the scale rising each week when we step on it. We secretly feel ashamed every time we pull on a pair of pants that fit a few weeks ago that are now too small for comfort. And there is most certainly no joy in the way we feel as one who is obese. No one can honestly say they feel good when they can’t do simple tasks without getting out of breath. Even basic tasks such as tying your shoes can be a problem when you can’t breath while bent over to do so. Yes, I have experienced all of this, and none of it ever brought joy into my life.

Oh, did I forgot to mention the sickness and shame that comes from quickly binge eating in secret too? Odds are, if you are obese, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Life does not have to be one that revolves around food for pleasure and comfort. But sadly food is highly likely to continue dominating our lives for an indeterminate amount of time going forward. Besides our chemical and biological addiction to sugar and simple carbs, there is another piece to the obesity puzzle. That other piece is flavorings. When we enjoy a treat such as a chocolate milkshake, not only are we feeding our sugar addiction, we are also getting great joy from the human palatants mixed into the chocolate syrup and vanilla flavorings.

What are Palatants?

Palatants are ingredient systems that are specially designed to make pet foods, treats, and supplements taste better, ensuring that pets receive the vital nutrients they need. Palatants entice a pet to consume a food, treat, or supplement that, while nutritious, may be inconsistent with their native diet.

Now for the rub, this is also done to human foods as well. The entire food industry has flavor scientists whose main function is in creating delectable manmade chemicals which we add to foods to make them taste better. People expend a great deal of effort making food taste good. In pursuit of palatability, we sprinkle spices, use flavorful fats, and choose varying preparation methods. Appetizing foods take center stage at parties, holidays, and family gatherings. Restaurants, snack food marketers and grocery stores are now doing to human foods what the pet food industry has been doing to, or for, our animals. We have foods that are now highly palatable as a result of science and manmade chemicals. They do this to keep us coming back for more!

Many of us are addicts and the food industry provides us with our next fix. It is up to us to break the chain of this cycle through nutritional education and then using what we learn to better our lives. No one is going to do it for us, not even your doctor. It is up to you to fix yourself.

Are You a Food Addict?

Answer the questions in the Yale Food Addiction Survey and think about your results.

Note: I am not licensed  to engage in clinical assessment or directly counsel and/or offer targeted therapy to a client with disordered eating.

This survey asks about your eating habits in the past year. People sometimes have difficulty controlling their intake of certain foods such as:
– Sweets like ice cream, chocolate, doughnuts, cookies, cake, candy, ice cream
– Starches like white bread, rolls, pasta, and rice
– Salty snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers
– Fatty foods like steak, bacon, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, and French fries
– Sugary drinks like soda pop
When the following questions ask about “CERTAIN FOODS” please think of ANY food similar to those listed in the food group or ANY OTHER foods you have had a problem with in the past year.

  1. I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating more than planned.
  2. I find myself continuing to consume certain foods even though I am no longer hungry.
  3. I eat to the point where I feel physically ill.
  4. Not eating certain types of food, or cutting down on certain types of food is something I worry about.
  5. I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or fatigued from overeating.
  6. I find myself eating certain foods throughout the day.
  7. I find that when certain foods are not available, I will go out of my way to obtain them. For example, I will drive to the store to purchase certain foods even though I have other options available to me at home.
  8. There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often, or in such large quantities that I started to eat food instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreation activities I enjoy.
  9. There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often, or in large quantities that I spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreation activities I enjoy.
  10. There have been times when I avoided professional or social situations where certain foods were available, because I was afraid I would overeat.
  11. There have been times when I avoided professional or social situations because I was not able to consume certain foods there.
  12. I have had withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, or other physical symptoms when I cut down, or stopped eating certain foods.
  13. I have consumed certain foods to prevent feelings of agitation, anxiety, or other physical symptoms that were developing.
  14. I have found that I have elevated desire for, or urges to consume certain foods when I cutdown or quit eating them.
  15. My behavior with respect to food and eating causes significant distress.
  16. I experience significant problems in my ability to function efficiently because of food and eating.
  17. My food consumption has caused significant psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, self-loathing, or guilt.
  18. My food consumption has caused significant physical problems or made a physical problem worse.
  19. I kept consuming the same types of food or the same amount of food even though I was having emotional and/or physical problems.
  20. Over time, I have found that I need to eat more and more to get the feeling I want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure.
  21. I have found that eating the same amount of food does not reduce my negative emotions or increase pleasurable feelings the way it used to.
  22. I want to cut down or stop eating certain kinds of food.
  23. I have tried to cut down or stop eating certain kinds of food.
  24. I have been successful at cutting down or not eating these kinds of food.
  25. How many times in the past year did you try to cut down or stop eating certain foods
    altogether? (1)

Uncontrollable Cravings

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(1) Yale Food Addiction Scale link:


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